10 Nov GS 1989 art 130
GS 1989 ARTICLE 130
Committee IV presents:
Agenda Item VIII, D, 2 – 6
- 1. Letter from brs. J. and M. Kamphuis re Acts Synod 1986, Art. 184, 185 and Acts Synod 1983, Art. 165 and 166.
- 2. Letter from Rev. R. Boersema re the same.
- 3. Letter from br. R. Bosman re Acts Synod 1986, Art. 184.
- 4. Letter from br. J. Hendriks re Acts Synod 1986, Art.184 and 185.
- 5. Letter from br. E. C. Baartman re the same.
- 1. Since these appeals are lawfully brought forward according to Art. 31 C.O. mainly against decisions of General Synod 1986 (Art.184 and 185) by members of the churches, Synod declare these appeals admissible.
- 1. Brs. J. and M. Kamphuis request Synod to rescind the considerations and recommendations of Art. 184 and 185 of Acts Synod 1986, and of Art. 165 and 166 of Acts Synod 1983. Their concern is the “extreme that the one holy catholic church as God sees it and the true churches are classified as one and the same.”
- 2. Rev. Boersema states that he found “exegetical onesidedness and apparent inconsistencies in the formulations of the last General Synod.” He therefore appeals “part of the argumentation of Art.185 of the Acts of Synod 1986” and “suggests an improved formulation for some parts while maintaining all the positive concerns of Synod 1986.”
- 3. Rev. R. Boersema also states that it “is not clear that the Bible rejects the view that the church is the assembly of all true believers in Christ” because “the Bible does not speak of three categories of people: the world, the church and believers who are not of the world and also not of the church.”
- 4. Br. R. Bosman objects that Synod 1986 presented its view “as the only possible view, thereby labelling anybody else’s view as unbiblical.” He urges Synod 1989 “to reexamine the Biblical evidence to see if this is the only possible doctrine of the church.”
- 5. Br. J. Hendriks complains of the fact that Synod 1986 in “its defence of Art. 28 BC became too systematic and scholastic.” He requests Synod 1989 “to take away from art. 184 and 185 of Synod 1986 the following:
- 1. that the Lord Jesus Christ can be bound in His church gathering work.
- 2. that He only gathers this holy catholic church in visible local true churches.
- 3. that believers who are not member of a visible, local true church are not member of the holy catholic church and are not incorporated in the body of Christ.”
- 6. According to br. E. C. Baartman Synod Burlington 1986 summarized the matter of the doctrine of the church as follows:
- “A. True believers outside the true church are not members of the universal church (Article 27).
- B. Believers who are not members of a visible local church are not incorporated in the body of Christ!
- C. Christ gathers the ‘holy catholic, universal church only in visible true churches’!”
- He therefore requests Synod “to set matters straight by rescinding the contradictory statements in Art. 184 and 185 of the Acts of Synod Burlington, 1986 made in answer to the above mentioned appeals”.
- 1. The decisions of major assemblies shall be considered settled and binding (Art. 31 C.O.), also when these pertain to doctrinal considerations in response to appeals from the churches.
- 2. The decisions of General Synod 1986 in the articles 184 and 185 are responses to appeals submitted to that assembly (See Acts Art.184 IV: Considerations re appeal etc). The specific context of the decisions of General Synod 1986 should not be overlooked as if this Synod formulated an independent doctrinal statement concerning the church which functions beside the confessions.
- 3. It is incumbent upon the appellants to prove that the considerations and decisions of General Synod 1986 with respect to these appeals are against Scripture and the Confessions. Specific conclusions taken by the appellants on the basis of the decisions are not necessarily the proper interpretation of the decisions of Synod 1986.
- 4. The objections of the appellants stem mainly from an unbalanced and one-sided reading of the decisions of Synod 1986 which puts the entire decision in an improper perspective.
- a. General Synod 1986 stated that Art. 27 and 28 B.C. speak about the same church. “To join the assembly of true believers is to join the one, holy, catholic and Christian church.” (Art. 184, IV, A, 2) This statement should not be turned around to posit that “Christ gathers the ‘holy catholic, universal church only in visible true churches’!” (See observation 6c)
- b. Synod 1986 stressed that Christ binds us in His church-gathering work to His revealed will (Art. 184, V, C, 1 “The norm is and remains what God’s Word teaches, namely, that Christ gathers it in the unity of the true faith, according to the marks of the true church.”) but this may not be construed as saying that the Lord Jesus Christ is bound in His church gathering work (See Observation 5.1).
- c. The statement that “all believers already belong to the church” was rejected by General Synod 1986 because this statement was considered to posit a nebulous concept of the church and to neglect the norms given by Christ. This statement of Synod 1986 should not be used to conclude that there are three categories of people: “the world, the church and the believers who are not of the world and also not of the church.” (Observation 3). Synod 1986 stressed the obedience to the norms of Christ but did not deny that the church-gathering work of Christ “is broader than the local, true churches” (Art. 184, V, C, 1).
- 5. Synod 1986 considered that Scripture and Confessions speak about the church “in a general and a more specific way”. This has been interpreted as being “too systematic and scholastic,” but this manner of expressing seeks to explain that there are two aspects to the church: as it is visible to the eyes of God and as it can be seen by men (Art. 184, V, C, 1). These two aspects are not confusing or contradictory but stand side by side. Synod, in fact, rejected a one-sided use of this distinction and warned against an attempt “to systematize a broken and sinful situation” (Art. 184, IV, A, 3, b; Art. 185, E, 4, b).
- 1. to deny the requests of the appellants J. Kamphuis, M. Kamphuis, Rev. R. Boersema, R. Bosman, J. Hendriks and E.C. Baartman.
MOTION TO AMEND
A motion to amend Consideration 5 of the Advisory Committee’s proposal so that it would read as follows is made and duly seconded.
- 5. Synod 1986 considered that Scripture and Confessions speak about the church “in a general and a more specific way”. Although this may be regarded as a less fortunate way of speaking, these expressions were meant to stress that there are two ways of speaking about the church: as it is visible to the eyes of God and as it can be seen by men (Art.184 V C 1). These two aspects are not confusing or contradictory but stand side by side. Synod, in fact, rejected a one-sided use of this distinction and warned against an attempt “to systematize a broken and sinful situation” (Art. 184, IV, A, 3, b; Art. 185, E, 4, b).
The Advisory Committee proposal is